Monday, August 19, 2013

The Grand Tetons

Last week Chris and I met his family in the Tetons and went camping with them for a few days. It was so fun to be with everyone and it was beautiful there! We had lots of fun. We got there on Thursday afternoon about 3pm. His family got there that morning and reserved a campsite for us. We had 3 different campsites because you are only allowed to have 2 tents per campsite. Chris' mom Carol and her husband Brett, Brett's daughter  Claudi, his brother Mikel and his two kids Calvry and Nala, his brother Ryan and his wife Amanda and their daughter Evelyn, his brother Robbie, and his sister Katie's oldest son Jayden all went. We missed both of Chris' sisters and Brett's son Marco and his family.
The first day we got our campsite all set up and had dutch oven lasagna provided by Carol and Brett. The next morning we made breakfast in the rain. Luckily me bought a new tent right before we left that has a rainfly that covers the entire tent, so we stayed completely dry during the night-and we both also brought our coats. After breakfast we all went to Yellowstone for the day. We didn't go on the side of Old Faithful, which was ok because I've seen it a couple times before. We saw several herds of buffalo,  which the kids loved. We went down (and back up) over 300 steps to a beautiful waterfall, and we also went to some hot spots, which are kind of fascinating to me. That night when we got back to our campground it was late and we didn't want to cook so we ate dinner at the restaurant right there. Saturday morning Brett, Claudi, Chris, and Calvry went on an all day hike up Cascade Canyon, that goes right beside the Grand Teton mountain. While they were gone the rest of us went to a cool museum/visitor's center that had a bunch of cool stuff about the Tetons, how they were formed, the animals, the hx of the area, etc. Then we came back and went to the lake right by our campground (I think it was Jackson Lake), and just hung out on the beach. We also got rained out there so Carol, Jayden and I went and played cards for awhile after it stopped raining. The rest waited out the rain and stayed at the lake for awhile longer. The hikers came back about that time and everyone made their own dinner. Chris and I had tinfoil dinners. Yum! We hung out for awhile the rest of the evening and the next morning we got early and packed up. I rode with Chris until we got to Rexburg, then switched and rode with his brother Mikel because Chris was going back to Spokane and I was going to Burley. I stayed with my mom until Wednesday, and then flew home from Boise. It was so nice to have a whole week off of work. And it was really nice leaving and coming back in the middle of the week, so when I came back I only had to work 3 days. Here are some pics of the trip-sorry there are so many! I had a hard time narrowing it down, and I don't have the time to make collages like I sometimes do.

 Carol and I the first afternoon

Chris and I the first night. 


Chris and Nala-she loves him!

 Chris and all 3 of his brothers-a handsome bunch! (notice all the buffalo behind them)

 Hiking to the waterfall

Going down all the steps to the waterfall


Me and Evelyn

I like this picture because of the clouds

Everyone eating at the restaurant. For some reason Chris' head looks like he's an alien.

Nala and I at the lake.

Jayden and Evelyn 

 This is Chris on his hike. They ended up hiking about 13 miles I think. While on their hike that saw this bear come out of the trees, and a baby cub right behind it. This picture is not zoomed in-it was only about 10 yards from then! About 15 minutes later they also saw a huge moose!

 The last night saying goodbye to the Tetons-we will miss you!

Eating our tinfoil dinners

It was Fair Week in Burley so my mom and I got to go to the Fair on Tuesday night and I got to have a maple bar. So good! I got to see a couple friends there, and got to spend a little time with my cousin Jamie. Wednesday morning we watched the parade. Taylor and Ian rode their bikes with their neighbor who is a cop I believe. They did a good job and were so cute waving at everyone while they rode.

Tysi came and brought Kade, Kalan, and Halli with her. I was really glad I got to see them. 

For some reason this is Halli's new thing. She like's to make this face. She loved the parade and kept saying, "I love parades. I love horsies. I love dogs." etc, etc.

Luke also loved the parade, except he wasn't a fan of the candy being thrown. For some reason 90% of the candy thrown was saltwater taffy. Luke was getting tired of and starting throwing it back in the road. Haha, it was pretty funny.

Sadly we probably won't be coming home again until Christmas. We loved being able to come home so much this summer. With Chris staring school again (today!), we will be pretty busy. I worked on Christmas last year so I'm assuming I won't have to this year, and will hopefully be able to have a few days off to come home. In the meantime, anyone is welcome to come visit us (hint, hint). It's only an hour flight from Boise to Spokane, and if you watch the sales, sometime you can get one way tickets from Southwest for $50 or $60. :)

I think Remicade is working!

Well just wanted to post an update on how I've been doing since being out of the hospital. I received my 3rd Remicade infusion the day after coming home from the hospital (3 weeks ago today). The infusion was on Monday, and I worked my normal schedule that week of Tuesday through Saturday and was totally fine! I expected it to be a long hard week, but I actually did pretty well. The next Monday I was able to help at Day Camp with my Scouts for 5 hours, and then Chris and I left the next Thursday for a little vacation. We went camping in the Tetons with his family. We went to Yellowstone one day and did lots of other fun things. Chris drove back to Spokane on Sunday, and I went to Burley and stayed with my mom until Wednesday, and then flew home. The whole time I felt really well. I couldn't really believe it. It was so nice to have energy and not have any pain.
Here we are in Yellowstone. We had to go down over 300 stairs to get here...I was pretty proud of myself that I made it back up.

I remember when we went camping with my family in July, I had not been doing well leading up the trip, and while we were camping it was hard to have energy to help with the cooking, cleaning, etc. If I did something (such as ride my bike around, climb a rock, go canoeing, etc) then I was worn out. Especially the last morning when we were packing up to go home, I felt so crummy and helpless watching everyone work. I actually went and laid down in my mom's tent (which hadn't been put away yet) for a few minutes. But this camping trip I felt so good and had lots of energy.
Saturday I started to not feel so good again, but it wasn't too bad. Today I woke up with stomach pain too. But I have read other people say that it takes a few months for it to fully get into your system. The doctor told me to give it 6 months to work. My next infusion isn't until September 23, and I wish it was sooner, haha.

One thing that has been bothering me is my rheumatoid arthritis in my hands. A few months ago I got steroid shots in all my fingers. I had two fingers done at a time. When we were camping I noticed my fingers starting to hurt again. Then when I got to my mom's house I noticed that the first two fingers I got shots in were really swollen. They have just been getting worse. I couldn't get an appointment with the rheumatologist until September 12. I don't know if I can wait that long, so I might call again and see if there is any way she can see me sooner. I wake up in the middle of the night and can hardly move them from the pain and stiffness. I can't open lids or packages by myself, and if I bump my fingers on anything, I feel an instant shooting pain that makes me want to scream. I was really hoping the Remicade would help the arthritis too, but maybe it just needs more time.
Here you can see which two fingers are swollen.

Some of you might remember that I had surgery on my sinuses a little over 2 years ago. It helped me to be able to breathe better, and I have only had one sinus infection since then, when I used to get about 3-4 a year. Well, since we moved to Spokane, I have felt like things have been worse again. Since I have met my out of pocket for my insurance, I decided to go see an ENT. I told him about all the problems I have had all my life. I told him about the allergy tests I had when I was 11 or 12 years old (which showed I was allergic to dust mites, a tree, and a weed. I told him how I ALWAYS have drainage going to down my throat, and have to clear it by making a kind of disgusting noise, otherwise I feel like I am drowning in my own secretions. Sometimes I wake up in the night coughing and cannot breath because of so much stuff in my throat. And I have a chronic cough. (My senior year of High School one of my teachers said to me, "Jill you have had that cough all year." I answered, "I have had this cough my whole life!." I told him that I have all these problems year round. I also told him that I have tried everything. I take Claritan and Sudafed every day. I use a prescription nasal spray every day. I use a humidifier every night. I have tried sinus rinses, etc. I also diffuse essential oils at night that are supposed to help you breathe better. So he put a camera up my nose, which was kind of uncomfortable, and looked around.

He didn't have the records from my previous ENT yet to know exactly what was done during the surgery, so he wanted to see himself. After we had talked about everything and he got done with the scope, he told me that I have about every problem that I could have. Go figure. He said he could tell I have chronic sinusitis, but there was no infection currently present. He said I most likely have allergies, but I just can't tell on top of everything else. He also said that I most likely have esophageal/laryngeal reflux. I get heartburn once every 4-6 weeks or so and most of the time it isn't bad enough to take anything, but every now and then I take Tums if it doesn't go away. He said what I think is drainage coming from my sinuses, is actually stuff coming back up my esophagus. That causes the feeling of drowning, and gross noise and clearing of my throat that I am constantly doing. This makes sense to me because lots of time when I swallow I have an acidic taste in my mouth. The last thing he said was he could tell from looking through  the camera, that I had something "reduced" during my surgery, that probably should have been removed all together. Without going into lots of gross detail, it causes me to cough up hard green remnants of drainage every now and then. It is very rare that this happens, but he says another surgery to fix that might also help me feel better (but this would be way in the future, if we did it at all, after we have worked on everything else).

So the plan is I am going to have a CT scan and allergy tests done in a couple weeks. They are going to test for everything, even food, which I didn't have done when I got tested in 6th grade. Then I am meeting with the doctor right after to talk about the results. I also started taking Prevacid for the reflux. this helps the symptoms, but not the cause-a sphincter is not working properly. There is surgery people get to stop reflux, because chronic reflux can lead to esophageal cancer. But I'm sticking with medication for now. I am to continue the nasal spray and humidifier, sudafed and claritan, and start using the sinus rinse twice a day. Previously I just did it when I had a bad cold, sinus infection, or was really stuffed up. So hopefully these things work and I can start to feel better. I guess I have gotten used to ALWAYS having a sinus headache, but it would be nice if I didn't always have to deal with that too.

Sorry for the long I have said before, I write so much detail for myself, so that I can go back and read posts and remember everything that happens. I will keep updating on the progress with the Remicade. :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

This is Who I Am

Today we had a really good lesson in Relief Society about missionary work. As we talked about sharing the gospel, it reminded me of all the reasons why I love my church. My church is in my life on a daily basis, and is why I am who I am. I just wanted to share some of the things I love about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

The Priesthood: The earth was created using the priesthood, and Jesus Christ administered to the sick and afflicted and performed miracles using the priesthood. I listened to a talk this morning from the Saturday morning session of the April General Conference, by Elder Ballard: "In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife. And as husband and wife, a man and a woman should strive to follow our Heavenly Father. The Christian virtues of love, humility, and patience should be their focus as they seek the blessings of the priesthood in their lives and for their family." 

I have been the recipient of many priesthood blessings-father's blessings, blessings of comfort, blessings when I am sick, blessings to help me make decisions, and my Patriarchal blessing, which I received on my 16th birthday from the very special President Young, who also sealed Chris and I. My Uncle Parley once gave me a very special blessing where he said that the the Lord wanted me to know that I would meet my eternal companion within the next year. That was during the summer, and Chris and I met the next February. :) 

The priesthood blesses my life everyday, not just when I receive a blessing.

Prophets and apostles: There were prophets in the days of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and now The Lord has allowed us to have modern day Prophets. Jesus Chris had apostles that worked with Him. I asked my brother Chad once what he thought the biggest difference between our church and other Christians was, and he said that its that we have a living prophet. I had been asked this question by another dietitian during my internship, and hadn't really known what to say. Our prophet, Thomas S. Monson leads and guides our church and he, along with his counselors and other leaders in the church, teaches us what the Lord wants us to learn.

General Conference: This goes along with the above. Every six months we get to stay home and listen to our leaders speak to us about...anything, really. I always feel like they are speaking right to me. This is amazing guidance that we can re-read and re-watch later. I like to listen to Conference talks from my iPad when I get ready in the morning. It helps me to remember to make good choices throughout the day, and try to implement simple changes in my every day life, such as studying the scriptures, missionary work, serving others, etc. They also help me find comfort when I am having a hard time from something. Many apostles teach us how to endure our trials and learn from them. We know that if we endure these trials well, we will be blessed and have eternal life.

Organization: this is something that I REALLY love. The church is organized in its leadership, its stakes, wards, and branches, in its teaching material, in its finances, in everything it does. I love that when I move to a new place, I have an instant pool of new friends and ward "family" members. I can pick up right at the same sunday school lesson that I left off on, and it will be the same lesson that my mom is having in Burley, Id, that my brother is having in Riverton, Wyoming, and that my missionary cousin is having in the Phillipines. Everywhere you go, it is the same, and I never have to worry about finding a new church that I like, because the church that I love is everywhere. The church is always the first to reach out when natural disasters happen, because of its organization. A temple or church building isn't built before it is paid for, and the church does not have any debt.

Relief Society: If you don't know what Relief Society is, it is the organization of the women in the church. Every Sunday we have an hour where we meet together as women, and during this time we teach and learn from one another. There is a wonderful spirit there that I truly miss if I'm not there. The Relief Society theme is "Charity Never Faileth." I have been the recipient of many Relief Society dinners and acts of service. RS also gives me the opportunity to serve others. Heavenly Father answers our prayers through other people, and so if we serve others, we will be blessed.  Today in Sunday School, our teacher shared the quote from Joseph Smith when he said, "The church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized." He also taught that Relief Society was organized, "under the priesthood, after the manner of the priesthood." Lets face it, the men need Relief Society just like women need the priesthood, and I know that need Relief Society. It is so wonderful to be a part of the world's largest organization of women. 

The Book Of Mormon: The eighth article of Faith says: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book Of Mormon to be the word of God." The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is a record of the people on this continent. This fascinates me. We know that Christ visited the people here after he was resurrected because of the Book of Mormon. There is speculation about where certain events of the Book of Mormon took place, which I have been reading a little about lately. We know that the prophet Moroni buried the gold plates (with the Scriptures written on them) where present day upstate New York is, because Moroni, who came to Joseph Smith as an angel, told Joseph where to find them. Little fact: Moroni is the son of the prophet Mormon, who compiled the plates together, hence the name "The Book of Mormon." That is where the name "Mormons," comes from. And the Angel Moroni is on top of every temple. :) Which brings me to my next point-

Temples: Temples go way back to ancient Bible times. This is where we can perform the Lord's work. Every time I go inside the temple, I feel comfort, love, and peace. I leave knowing that everything will be all right, and remember that my Heavenly Father does know me and truly loves me. Inside the temple we learn more about the Gospel, make covenants with our Heavenly Father, and do temple work for those that have passed away. And of course we are sealed together with our spouses and families. Phrases like "till death do you part," and, "as long as you both shall live," are not used inside the temple, because when we are sealed, it means that we will be together forever, throughout all eternity. 

Programs: Primary, Young Men, Young Women, Seminary, Institute, and Family Home Evening, to name a few. Most of these things are age specific, so we are taught things that pertain to us NOW. All of these things have helped me to be a better person, and gain a testimony of Jesus Christ. From a very young age I learned to speak in front of groups of people because in this church, we teach each other. Our Sacrament Meeting (part of church where the whole congregation meets together) is filled with members of the ward and stake sharing their testimonies and teaching from the scriptures and words of the prophets. So our Bishop is not the only person we hear from. I also loved having the opportunity to leave the pressures of every day life for an hour and a half 2-3 times per week and attend Seminary (in high school) and Institute (in college). I met wonderful people there and had a spiritual place to go whenever I needed to "get away." (Plus, the Institute Building was where I knew I could find my brother Brock 75% of the time I needed him, and then I could get him to help me with my chemistry homework). :) 

The Sacrament: I have really grown to love taking the Sacrament lately. Jesus Chris blessed and broke bread and wine during the Last Supper with His apostles. We bless bread and water and partake of it during the Sacrament every Sunday. When we are baptized, our sins are washed away from us. This is why we are baptized at the age of 8, because we are old enough to choose right from wrong, and repent when we sin. Babies have not sinned, therefore they are not ready to be baptized. Jesus Christ was perfect, but he was baptized to be an example to us. When we take the Sacrament, we are washed clean of our sins that we have repented of, just like when we are baptized. Taking the Sacrament is like being baptized every week!

I could keep going, but this is getting pretty long. I wish I could share my love for this Gospel with everyone, everywhere, so I guess this is a start. ;) I have a testimony that this church is TRUE, that Joseph Smith restored it to the Earth, and that he was a true prophet. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer and that through the Atonement, I can live with Him again if I follow God's commandments. I know that families can be together forever through the Plan of Salvation. I know that my Heavenly Father knows each of His children personally, and that He answers our prayers. Through this Gospel we can have eternal life!